There is little debate about the fact that 24 months of COVID, has resulted in numerous changes to our industry. The stress, the economics, the loss, the arguments, the politics, the confusion and the emergence of new strains have all played their part in transforming the way we do business in the future.
That said, despite this acknowledgment, the actions we see happening are not necessarily congruent with these changes. In many cases, I see both organizations and individuals moving forward with a "business as usual approach," and at least for me, that's a little concerning.
Why? Well, let's consider what has happened outside of the travel, tourism and hospitality space. We have seen so many businesses change their approach to keep up or take advantage of these changes more frequently. Retailers offered curbside pickup; streaming services upped their game, and offerings, services and technologies that supported remote work doubled down on their marketing and sales efforts.
And yet, once again, the space that I love so much, travel, tourism and hospitality, seems to be still cursed with a late adopter approach, as little as possible execution and anti-change thinking. To that point, I had a brief discussion with someone regarding their attempt to find a sales leader in the mice and events space; I challenged the job description because it could easily have been the same job description that might have been posted in 1980. However, it is no longer 1980, and it is post-COVID. How can these roles, strategies and methods still be the same? They cannot, yet the party in question defended the description with fervor. I hear things like this, and I shake my head in concern for this industry.
This example is not a unique case. I encourage us to ask a few simple questions regarding the post-COVID world.
1. The WHO you are selling to has changed. Maybe not the individuals themselves, but the way they think is drastically different from that in 2018. They expect more and will seek options that provide that.
2. The WHAT we offer has changed. We now need to be experts on aspects of travel that we never had to consider before. We have to stay ahead of the ever-changing and confusing policies that are different in almost every location.
3. The WHY a consumer would seek our help is different. Consumers want expert advice, not the lowest price bare bones offers that caused so much heartache for thousands of travelers at the beginning of the pandemic.
4. The WHERE is everywhere. People are considering more options than ever before because this was a global crisis; more destinations are in the mix. Acquisitions and mergers have reduced borders and made buying from a provider in your zip code irrelevant.
I am still optimistic that we can turn the corner and improve our approach. Our industry has a reputation for being technologically challenged and late to adapt to change. However, unlike the watershed moments of the past, these current changes are global, not forced by someone like me - but by the consumer. Undoubtedly, what they expect from us will continue to be more precise and transparent. The question for us is, why wait to adjust? What possible advantage could there be to only changing once the change is mandated?
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